Vanderbilt: A Residential Experience
One of my favorite things about Vanderbilt is the amount of effort and focus that the university places on supporting its undergraduate students. We do not just want you to come to Vanderbilt – we want you to thrive and be successful throughout your four years on campus. We strongly believe that there is a connection between where you live and your ability to maximize your academic and social potential while at Vanderbilt.
This is why the university has instituted a residential requirement stating that all undergraduate students must live on campus for the entirety of their four years, barring special circumstances. As a result of this requirement, Vanderbilt ranks in the top 10 universities for on-campus living, with a current rate of 85% of all undergraduate students living in the 34 dorms, houses, and buildings available on campus.
(Who is the other 15%, you might ask? Students with parents or guardians living in Davidson County, married students, students living abroad, and those who apply for and are granted special waivers to find off-campus housing.)
In 2008, Vanderbilt took a big step in strengthening this commitment to a completely residential campus by opening The Martha Rivers Ingram Commons, a set of 10 living-learning facilities designed to accommodate 1600 first year students. With few exceptions, freshmen live in double rooms and are matched with roommates either through self-selection or a lifestyle survey. They are then placed in one of the ten houses, each of which has a faculty Head of House, and which operate under the direction of Frank Wcislo, Dean of The Ingram Commons, whose own house sits right next to The Commons Center.
Not soon after The Ingram Commons was completed, Vanderbilt announced the next phase: The College Halls. This summer, four traditionally sophomore housing buildings collectively referred to as Kissam Quadrangle will be demolished and construction on these new halls will begin. The two buildings will house over 300 upperclass students each and be led by faculty directors and graduate students in residence. Much like The Ingram Commons, these halls will be divided into smaller “neighborhoods” to create a sense of community and foster meaningful engagement within larger groups of students. The new dorms are expected to be up and running by fall 2014.
The College Halls will be just one of many housing options for our sophomores, juniors, and seniors who already enjoy a wide variety of living arrangements from which they can choose. Cole and Tolman offer single-sex halls in the heart of main campus. The Mayfield houses are designed for groups of 10 students who dedicate their year to a community service or research project. McTyeire provides a living-learning experience for students interested in immersing themselves in international culture. And the list goes on.
In my years as a Vanderbilt undergrad, I found on-campus living to be a vital and irreplaceable component of my college experience. Whether it’s making friends by simply walking down the hall and knocking on a stranger’s door, taking the elevator down to the Quiznos in your dorm basement at 2 a.m., or being able to take a quick nap between classes because your room is right next door to the lecture hall, the ability to live where you learn and learn where you live is one you may never get again. As incoming Vanderbilt students in this time of residential reinvigoration, you will be able to do so with more options and more support available than ever before.